He could hear the beginnings of a cold in her voice; the deep, husky undertones and the nasal twang that slipped out on certain vowels. He knew by the next sunrise, she'd be coughing and carrying balled up Kleenex around, miserable for the entire day. The next day, it would be worse; her voice would get hoarse and she'd be running a fever. The day after that, or maybe two days, she'd stay home altogether, nauseous on top of everything else. She didn't get sick often. He knew her that well.
His lips twisted into a wry smile. Ironic.
"Well, you know…" was drawled, accompanied by a lazy shrug as he sat on the stool beside her near the bar. She was nursing a beer, he noted, not her usual choice of beverage. Under normal circumstances she preferred something softer, more fruity. Strawberry cocktails sprang to mind, and he almost chuckled. Yeah, he knew her.
"Don't patronize me, Granger," she snapped.
The silent question bouncing in his eyes told her all she needed to know. "No, not Colby. You know why? Because I don't even know-" she paused, fire in her eyes, "who. The. Hell. You. Are. Not anymore."
He sat defiantly, meeting her icy gaze with his steel one.
"What did they offer you, huh? That's what I want to know. Money? What could possibly have been better than what you had right here?" She tipped the open end of her bottle in a circle, gesturing around them. "What was so great that you could throw your life away for a f—" she cut herself off angrily. "Was the grass that much greener in China?" She nearly spat the word out at him.
His tone was laced with sarcasm when he replied, "oh, yeah, it was all about the grass, Megan. That was all I ever wanted."
"Goddamnit, Colby!" She slammed her hand down on the marble tabletop, drawing more than a few glances. She ignored them. "What the hell was this, anyway? This job? An act? Some sick, perverted game you were playing with us? We trusted you!" Fury, hurt, and regret flashed like a slideshow in her blue eyes that he distinguished so well. She wasn't just angry with him, she was angry at herself.
Something deep down in his gut told him to reach over, take her hand, apologize. Tell her it wasn't what it seemed.
But it was too late for that now. He shoved the thought aside.
He cleared his throat, sighed. He really didn't… "It wasn't- not all of it-"
"… what went on with-" He struggled desperately to force the words out, "Megan, you and me… it- it wasn't an act. Wasn't a game. What I felt for you was real." Slowly, he raised his eyes to her face. Still expressionless.
"Bullshit, Granger." She stated simply. "A whole, big, load of bullshit is what just came out of your mouth. Save it for someone who believes you. Or, for that matter, even cares." Cursing under her breath, she drained her beer and stood up. "I can't believe I ever… this is waste of time."
"Clearly," he sneered.
"Screw you." Then she took two steps forward, heading for the door. Stopped. Turned, eyes shooting flaming arrows at him. He saw her hand move to her neck, grasping. She yanked hard on a chain and threw something at his chest. "You can have this back. And Colby," her voice was cold, "go to hell."
In that split second, he found himself flying backwards into the past…
"You look like you need a towel," Colby laughed, holding out his hand when her head broke the surface of the water.
"Or two, or three, and a change of clothes," Megan finished, letting him help her onto the dock. "Thanks." Automatically, her hands flew to her neck. "Colby, it's gone." She started to panic. "He pulled on it as he tackled me… If I can't find it…"
It didn't take a genius to know that necklace meant the world to her.
"I'll find it," he promised, but he knew the chances of finding it in the lake were slim. But he'd look. For her.
The next day, a jewellery box showed up on her desk. A small frown furrowed her brow. Had he found it. Why would he have put it in a brand-new box? She glanced up as someone behind her cleared their throat. "I'm sorry, Megan. I couldn't find it for you." Megan turned. It didn't matter if he hadn't said anything, the apology was written all over his face. She hugged him.
"You're the best, you know that?" she spoke into his ear. "You really are."
He laughed. "You haven't even seen what's in the box yet."
Her eyes were watery as she looked at him. "I don't need to."
He would have been shocked to find that she, too, had pulled away for a trip down the memory lane…
"Owww…" Megan grumbled, grasping her wrist in her left hand. "That dude could hit pretty hard for a nerd. And I landed harder."
"Well, we got him, thanks to your kickass karate skills," Colby teased her.
"Yeah yeah, I know. It's not karate," he said, laughing. "So you've said."
"Only cause you keep saying it, too. Wrong." She smacked his shoulder with the heel of her injured hand with a wince.
"Alright, alright, lemme see it," he ordered.
Obediently she held out her arm, watching as he cradled it gently in his large hands. A warm feeling promptly rushed through her body, and she pulled her hand back confused, ignoring the pain that resulted in her actions.
"Did I hurt you?" he demanded immediately.
He stared at her, confused. "Then wha-"
Megan fidgeted with the necklace around her neck. "'S just… weird… is all."
"Ahh, Meg, come on." Colby inched closer, mindful of the people milling around and the fact that they were still in plain view because of the glass walls that surrounded the little FBI kitchenette. "Give a guy a break. What's goin' on?"
"Nothing." When one eyebrow arched up, she amended her statement. "Well…"
"Me-gan," he drew out her name, sounding it out into four syllables instead of two, "talk to me."
"No, that's okay."
Frustrated, he planted himself a foot in front of her and crossed his arms. "Why not?" His voice was dangerously low and rumbling in his chest as he gazed down at her. She fought the urge to shiver. He ducked his head.
Megan licked her lips with a nervous breath. Her spine was tingling. She could feel her shoulder blades pressing against the cupboards behind her. She didn't want to do this now, not now, maybe not ever, and dammit, he was so not flashing those eyes at her and grinning like a Cheshire freaking cat. Damn you, Colby Granger
He'd always had that aura about him, that All-American-Hero type personality, but every once in a while, when he really, really wanted something, he'd get all Bad-Boy-Playing-With-Fire on her and her heart would kick into triple-time. Good-guy Colby was fun to banter with, but Bad-Guy Granger…
Oh, dammit, he was closer. Again.
And poor little her was absolutely in every way possible unable to move, crud.
She could tell herself anything she wanted, but getting her brain to interpret the messages was another thing altogether.
At this point, his lips were close enough to hers that she could feel his warm, cinnamon-smelling breath on her cheeks, her nose, whistling past her ears. Then, finally, tenderly, wonderfully, his mouth covered her own and-
"Colby? Don needs us to follow up on a lead on that security guard-" obviously not noticing what he'd interrupted. The pressure on her lips disappeared completely as Colby twisted his head to look over one shoulder. "Sure, David, just gimme a sec," he said, causal as could be. Dear Lord in heaven, she must be on drugs, cause there was sure as hell nothing on god's green Earth that could possibly feel this good naturally.
"I'll get it out of you, Megan Reeves," he whispered into her ear, and then he was walking out the door.
When she blinked to clear the images form her mind, he was standing in front of her. God, had it only been a week ago that she had fallen head over freaking heels for this guy? And now she didn't even know if something as simple as his name was even real.
Wow, she was stupider than she thought.
"I actually can't believe…" she stopped. Shook her head in disbelief. Felt sick to her stomach.
His eyes were sad, now, so sad. For a moment, she felt that familiar zinging electric shock/adrenaline rush that'd zipped through her body every time he'd looked at her like that. But that wasn't someone she knew. The man two feet away? A stranger. A stranger whose daring betrayal cut straight to her very core.
Suddenly all she wanted to do was cry.
Instinctively he reached forward. Just as his fingertips touched her cheekbone, she jerked away. "Don't. Don't touch me." Her blue eyes filled with tears, spilling over, unrelenting.
"I don't know you, Colby."
TBC... if you want